Re: power <debate>

thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 09:18:14 -0500

On Fri, 8 Mar 1996, John McCreery wrote:

> I stick by my observation that anthropologists rarely pay
> sufficient attention to the mechanisms by which influence is
> wielded, falling back instead on discussions of authority, for
> which data is more easily gathered, or on elegant chains of
> logical implications that are , in my experience, a very
> imperfect mirror of how things are actually done.

That is certainly true, and I have no argument with it. Indeed,
while "elegant strings of logical implications" ("authority") make up
the cultural structure, it is the myriad and dynamic "influence" which are
the basis of the on-the-ground "organization" (as Firth distinguished
structure and organization).

I think the rarity of anthro focus on influence per se, is due that (1) it is
individual--or perhaps 'personal' would be a better word-- and anthros tend
not to deal on such levels; and (2) it is often covert, or at least more
often felt by the particpants than observed.